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Martin KennedyHead of Department of Pathology and Biomedical Science
Director, Carney Centre for Pharmacogenomics
Laboratory Director, Gene Structure and Function Laboratory

BSc(Hons)(Cant), PhD(Auck)

Email +64 3 364 0590

Research interests

Professor Martin Kennedy's main research interests are psychiatric genetics, pharmacogenomics, and the genetics of complex disease.

His current research largely focuses on pharmacogenomics, which aims to understand how drugs and genes interact with the goal of improving drug treatments and reducing adverse drug reactions.  For example, analysis of genetic variation in genes such as those that encode drug metabolising liver enzymes like CYP2D6 and CYP2C19, is helping to determine genetic factors that impact on response to treatments for various diseases.

For a more comprehensive analysis of genetic factors impacting drug response or risks of adverse drug reactions, they are also applying Next Generation DNA sequencing methods including exome sequencing and other genomic approaches to explore drug response phenotypes.

In order to understand severe adverse drug reactions, his lab has developed a biobank for collecting biological samples of people who have suffered such reactions, called UDRUGS. This biobank is growing, and will enhance efforts to understand genetic factors that contribute to severe adverse drug reactions.

Other research interests include work with the Christchurch Health and Development Study looking at genetic contributions to a range of complex human traits, and a study focusing on the genetics of anorexia nervosa.

In addition, Martin's laboratory is examining the impact of G-quadruplex DNA structures and their relevance to genomic imprinting and other aspects of genome biology.


Professor Kennedy obtained his BSc(Hons) at University of Canterbury, and his PhD in bacterial genetics at the University of Auckland, and carried out postdoctoral research in leukaemia genetics at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge (UK) before returning to University of Otago, Christchurch in 1991.

In the media

Professor Martin Kennedy was interviewed for Radio New Zealand's Our Changing World series in May 2013.

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